June Dairy Month, an annual celebration that began in 1937, is traditionally a time to reflect on dairy foods and the industry that makes it possible. It was created as a way to help distribute extra milk when cows started on pasture in the summer months. Today, its rich history continues, with communities, companies and consumers from all over the country observing June Dairy Month in a variety of ways.

In the Midwest, dairy farms and families often open their gates to visitors at breakfasts and tours, while grocery stores and other businesses feature dairy products during the month. America’s heartland – from North Dakota to Arkansas – is home to more than 11,000 dairy farms and the people behind the products, dairy farmers.

Nutrient-rich dairy foods are one of the most economical sources of nutrition. In fact, few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of nutrients in such an affordable, appealing and readily available way. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages children and adults nine years and older to enjoy three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt every day. And at about 25 cents per glass, milk provides one of the richest sources of well-absorbed calcium in the American diet.

Even with all of the time constraints that come along with summer activities, it is important to remember to have nutritious meals throughout the day. Midwest Dairy Association, St. Paul, Minn., recommends a Fruity Splash Smoothie, which is loaded with calcium and vitamin C, to start off the day. Add some dairy to dinner by pairing fresh seasonal vegetables with a Cucumber Yogurt Dip.

Dairy Fast Facts
•    98% of all U.S. dairy farms are family owned.
•    Typically it takes two days to get from the farm to the grocery store.
•    The Midwest is home to more than 11,000 dairy farms.
•    There are dairy farms in all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.
•    It takes 3 cups of broccoli to equal the calcium in one cup of milk.
•    An 8-ounce serving of low-fat plain yogurt contains 490 milligrams of potassium; about the same as a banana.
•    One ounce of hard cheese (i.e., Cheddar) contains 8 grams of protein; an egg contains 6 grams.

To obtain more recipes involving dairy or to learn more about June Dairy Month, go to www.midwestdairy.com.